Project Management Institute

Room to Improve

Meagan Moody, Vice President of Process Improvement, Ricoh USA, Inc., Duluth, Georgia, USA

Meagan Moody, vice president of process improvement, Ricoh USA Inc., Duluth, Georgia, USA



Ricoh was having a problem. Sure, its projects hit budget and schedule—but too often they weren't fulfilling strategic objectives. To align and standardize its project activity, the imaging and electronics organization implemented a project management office (PMO) in 2011. But the company decided a PMO was only part of the answer. Ricoh also established process improvement groups to work alongside the PMO. Overseeing all of them is Meagan Moody, a 20-year process improvement veteran who had served as Ricoh's process improvement director for five years before becoming vice president.

We have a fairly unique structure at Ricoh. I oversee four groups including the PMO, which has its own senior leader reporting to me. The customer excellence group is responsible for all our customer surveys and studies. As we get survey results, we identify customer or process opportunities. The fact-based management group is the analytic arm of process improvement. Sometimes the hardest part of process improvement and project management is getting the right data to make the right choice. The process re-engineering group has process improvement and project management expertise, and it leads strategic projects. Those three groups make up my core team.

Then there's the PMO, which has teams of project managers for Ricoh's functional groups, like supply chain, managed and technology services, finance and human resources. The PMO teams all have a dotted line responsibility to me. So my team oversees the PMO's projects, helping to vet and execute them.

How does your core process improvement team work with the PMO?

If a functional team in the PMO wants to do a lean initiative to optimize the flow of a production line, my core team can help with the fact-based analysis. Or the customer excellence group can feed customer surveys to the PMO that might lead to a specific supply-chain project. But if we have a bigger, cross-functional project that looks at our end-to-end process, that's when I tap into the resources of the process re-engineering group. I'm able to allocate these resources where and when they're needed.

Why did Ricoh develop this structure?

Five years ago at Ricoh, we only had the functional PMO teams. Sometimes they worked on projects that were important only to their groups. Some teams' skills were stronger than others, so we had a lot of inconsistent execution and inconsistent results. We needed more standards and a more consistent approach. So Ricoh created my role not only to support those functional teams but also to lead strategic cross-functional initiatives. This new structure, with the PMO and process improvement groups, provides leadership and support, as well as standardization and training.

How has this improved strategic alignment?

Before, everyone was focused on their own function. We didn't look at projects' overall value for the organization. And there was a lot of conflict for resources. I might have a project that would bring US$2 million in savings, but I couldn't do it because someone else already had the resources for a project delivering US$1 million savings. Now, it's about having a governing body that ensures we're working together on projects that are not only important for the functions but also meet Ricoh's objectives.

What types of process improvements does your team execute?

For the past several years, Ricoh has had a lot of acquisitions. My core team is the business lead for all those integrations. We also help bring new products to market. And we have projects on quality improvement, cost savings, supply-chain optimization and cycle-time reductions.

Last year, senior leadership wanted to improve quality in a particular process within customer administration. The project manager coordinated and scheduled all the project activities—and also helped us get from “we know we have a problem” to identifying the main issues to address.

How do you measure success?

For our projects, we have metrics and milestones to see if we get the value we expected, like cycle-time savings or error reduction. Obviously we want to stay on track with costs and timelines, but the most important thing when we deliver a project is if it achieves the benefits we expected. I'm more concerned about a successful project than particular dates.

How do you work with the C-suite to ensure more strategic success?

The CEO comes up with our main strategic pillars, such as increasing our productivity, and then I work with the business leaders, like the senior vice president of sales, to make sure their projects support that strategy. If a team brings a project to me, I'll ask them, “How does it support the executive strategy?” If it doesn't, I'll say no. PM


Small Talk

What's the one skill every project manager should have?

Managerial courage. Being a project manager isn't just about getting through a checklist. It's also about leading through change.

What's the best professional advice you ever received?

My first boss at Ricoh said: “I'd rather have you make a decision that's wrong and you learn from it than have you do nothing at all.”

What's a book that has special meaning for you?

Breaking Back by James Blake. It's an amazing story about how you can overcome challenges to be better than before.

What's your favorite off-the-clock activity?

Anything I can do outside: hiking, biking, paddleboarding, canoeing. I've run more than 15 half-marathons and one full marathon.

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